In support of the TDDA

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I was reminded at a downtown event the other night that just a few years ago, Saluda was struggling with downtown vitality and Tryon was bustling. I remember the same was the deal at one time with Landrum.
Many are the forces and influences that merge to positively or negatively affect the vitality of a town or village. Influencing factors come from within the community and from far away.  The economic crash of 2008 and resulting great recession are still dragging on the progress of the entire country, let alone our little town.
Through the ups and downs of the past decade and a half, the volunteers of the Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) have been working diligently to improve the vitality of the town. Yet I have found that many in our community are confused and misinformed about the organization, and have even implied that the TDDA is part of the problem.
That is a bunch of baloney. If anything, the TDDA should be praised, not maligned, for the thousands of volunteer hours and the many thousands of dollars spent, which have resulted in Streetscape design documents, economic studies, removal of overhead utility lines with new downtown street lights, various beautification efforts, downtown merchant strolls, and the ever- popular April Fool’s Festival.
The TDDA gave full organizational support and became the volunteer force behind the North Carolina Small Town Main Street Program. The TDDA has given volunteer and monetary support to many other organizations and events such as Summer Tracks, and the Nina Simone Project.
The TDDA also provided initial monetary support to the establishment of a paid Town of Tryon position of economic development director.
Unfortunately, under this position the lines began to become blurry between the role and responsibilities of the TDDA and other entities such as the Town of Tryon and The Nina Simone Foundation. The TDDA had graciously supported The Nina Simone Project but at no time was responsible for decisions made, or monies spent or not spent. To be placed on the hook for the unpaid sculptor fees is a shameful injustice.
Misconceptions abound as to what the TDDA is and has been responsible for, but one thing remains constant. The TDDA is the group that has been putting the most effort into this town for at least the last 14 years or so.
Now there is an excitement and energy of a new group of folks who wish to improve the vitality of the town. I, for one, am thrilled and pleased to see the concern of citizens manifest itself in action. I hope this revival of interest and new energy can be channeled for positive common good.
However, I am very concerned that many volunteer hours and effort will be spent reinventing the wheel, so to speak, and that would be a terrible waste of such a valuable gift. There are already files full of ideas and supporting data for economic development, promotions and beautification. Why not merge the efforts?
This village cannot support two or more organizations working toward the same goals. I am not currently on the board of directors of TDDA but I have not seen any indication that they plan to dissolve the 501(c)3.
It seems prudent that newcomers and old hats alike work together to tackle the issues facing the town, and not throw the baby out with the bath water.
– Mark Byington, Tryon

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox